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Calls for parliament waiting staff to get higher salary after job advertised below London living wage

Peers are calling for the House of Lords to increase its wage offer to waiting staff after a job advert was posted displaying rates below the current London living wage.

The living wage is calculated independently of the government mandated minimum wage, and is set at £12 per hour for most of the UK, and at £13.15 per hour for London for the 2023 – 2024 period, starting in October 2023. Companies sign up to pay the rate.

The current advert for waiting staff at the House of Lords in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster has a wage offer £13.02 an hour.

The House of Lords says it plans to start paying the new rate in April, pointing to a deadline of 1 May 2024 to implement the new rate.

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Members of the House of Lords can claim £342 a day plus travel expenses for each day they attend. This is equivalent to more than 26 hours at the wage offered for waiting staff.

Labour peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti said: “Parliamentary hospitality staff are some of the most patient and professional that you will ever meet.

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“They have to work unpredictable hours and stay calm under considerable pressure.

“They should be paid more than the London Living Wage and certainly not a penny less.”

Green peer Baroness Jenny Jones said: “It seems slightly embarrassing for the House of Lords not to pay staff the London Living Wage.

“The difference in what they are offering and what they should be offering is so small that it must be a mistake, and I look forward to a correction.”

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Labour peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti
Image: Labour peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti is among those calling for the staff to be paid more. Pic: PA

According to parliament’s website, the lowest paid workers in the Lords are eligible for a salary of £23,400 a year.

Among the responsibilities for the wait staff is preparing banqueting function rooms, greeting Peers and their guests, and covering catering when asked.

Hopefuls will have their public social media accounts checked before getting a job, and will also have to pass security vetting.

The job advert says it is “essential” that anyone applying has experience in a “high profile” establishment – ideally four or five star.

Shifts get given out a week in advance, and there is a six-month probation period. The advert does not say whether there is any guarantee of a minimum number of shifts.

The living wage, and its London weighting, is calculated by the Resolution Foundation thinktank.

It is overseen by the Living Wage Commission, which includes various academics, business people, union representatives, and officials from the London and Salford councils.

According to Living Wage Foundation’s website, more than 14,000 employers have signed up to the scheme, resulting in 460,000 pay rises.

The current minimum wage for those aged 18 and over is £7.49, rising to £10.18 at age 20 and £10.42 at 23.

In April, this will rise to £8.60 for 18-year-olds, and £11.44 for everyone 21 or older.

The UK living wage for 2022 to 2023 was £10.90, and the London living wage was £11.95.

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The Liberal Democrats’ Lord Benjamin Stoneham said: “We are appalled to hear our hard-working catering staff are not being paid the living wage.

“While families are struggling to put food on the table, now is the time for parliament to lead by example, and pay all catering staff a living wage.”

A House of Lords spokesperson said: “The Living Wage Foundation have said all employees at accredited organisations should be paid at least £13.15 an hour from 1 May.

“The House of Lords expects to implement a pay award from 1 April 2024 and will continue to pay at least the London Living Wage from this date to all its employees, including in these posts.”

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